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team meeting around desk looking at graphs financial information.

For most in New Zealand, a new financial year begins on April 1st and while most items have been checked off, and rolled over into the new year, a big item that many businesses won’t have in place is their budget for the new financial year.

Planning should be well underway, and all our clients should be looking at their interim results and consulting with their account managers to draft, review and finalise their 2024-25 budgets.

Your budget will help you keep track of your income and expenses and show you where your cash will be coming from.

 

Here are our top 3 tips to consider when making your next budget:

 

  1. Review the last year.

Last year’s budget will show you where you performed well as well as identifying areas of concern. Your accountant will also be able to help with this and may have further insights that can help your business move forward. Look at where you exceeded expectations and where there’s room for improvement. This will show you where to focus your efforts for the new year.

Other things to consider here is whether you can reassign any leftover funding from the last financial year, your value proposition – is there room to increase your pricing, and any upcoming legislative changes that may affect you.

 

  1. Processes are important.

If you have a bookkeeper to prioritise your accounts process most of the hard work is done. But it’s still important to record and manage your financials as efficiently as possible throughout the year. If you find yourself struggling to manage payroll, keep up with invoices or chasing overdue payments, then management of your business won’t be as effective and you may find good value in a bookkeeper.

 

  1. Make it happen.

Your figures will remain numbers on a page if you don’t put them into action. If you have new initiatives for your sales team or cost reductions in certain areas of the business, you’ll need someone to action them. Assign your initiatives to people outlining what needs to be done and by when and then review these regularly to help people stay on track.

 

Getting your planning and budgets in place prior to the start of the financial year means conversations with Managers can be positively focussed and provide a platform for your success. Don’t think of this as a laborious task. Our team are here to help. Taking the time to reflect on your business can be motivational allowing you a chance to think about what could be.

Paid invoice on screen

How to set up and receive invoices through the Xero to Xero Network

 

Manual data entry is one of the most time-consuming parts for any business. This is why Xero created the Xero to Xero Network to help reduce data entry, and errors and to be able to make billing and invoicing an easy and seamless process.

If your customers or suppliers are also using Xero, you can send and receive invoices and bills straight into each other’s Xero accounts.

All invoices issued this way will appear as a Draft which you will then be able to code and approve for payment. It really is that simple.

It all begins with a Network Key that every Xero user has. You can share yours and your suppliers can share theirs. Sharing your key doesn’t mean that organisation can see any of your Xero data.

You can find your Network key in the Settings menu:

  1. From the Settings menu, select General Settings
  2. Under Connect, click Xero to Xero
  3. Click Send Xero Network Invite.
  4. Enter the email address of the organisation you want to receive Xero invoices or bills from (edit the prepopulated message if you like).
  5. Click Send

They’ll receive an email with the key and instructions to add it to their contact details they have for you in their Xero account.

When you want to enter a network key received from another Xero organisation:

  1. Copy the key from your email
  2. In Xero, in the Contacts menu, select All Contacts
  3. Search for the contact you’ve received the network key from and click on their name
  4. Select Edit
  5. Scroll down to the bottom and paste in the Network Key in the field provided and Save.

Sending an invoice using Xero to Xero

  1. Add a new invoice, or view an invoice or bill that is awaiting payment
  2. Click on Invoice Options and choose Send via Xero Network (this option will only appear if you have entered a network key for this contact).
  3. Update the information in the Send window that appears. i.e email address if required.
  4. Ensure the Send via Xero Network checkbox is still selected and hit Send.

The customer will receive an email advising them their invoice has been sent using Xero to Xero. The invoice will appear in their Xero file as a draft bill.

We’ve found this is a really good time saver and reduces some of our admin time. As always, if you need help setting this up just give our office a call and we can book in some time for an online chat.

graphic of data on a screen

And how they can help your business

Everyone loves tools to help them in their daily lives. Here are some of ours that we think you’ll find helpful.

 

LastPass

If you must remember one password, make sure it’s for a secure password manager like LastPass. To have this managed effectively, our IT manager handles the setup and admin access ensuring that the right people see what they need to see.

We take IT security seriously and have recommended and set up LastPass for many clients for their Business Password Management.

You’ll have complete control through an admin console, reducing the reliance on human behaviour and minimising human error. 

Your staff will love that they only need to remember one password to their LastPass vault.

Password managers always need to be one step ahead, so watch this space for further advancements in password protection.

LastPass could be right for you if you’re looking for a way to manage access to multiple accounts across multiple staff. If you’d like more information to see whether this is right for you, give our office a call on 09 963 1897.

 

Clockify

Since we need to maintain accurate timesheets each day, having a system that is quick and easy to use is super helpful.

Some of our team use a free version of Clockify and it has been really valuable. There’s no more clock watching or writing down your start and end times on paper.  You can switch between jobs and if you have to go back to a job, you can easily restart the time. There’s a lot more you can do on Clockify if you need extra features like reporting, managing projects or teams, but for what we need it for the free version is sufficient.

It’s easy to sign up and start using – just hit the start button for the timer and begin your job. Once you stop the timer for that job, it’ll be added to a list and you can see the time spent across jobs over the day and a week.  Check it out: https://clockify.me/

 

Microsoft Teams

We operate on Microsoft so MS Teams was an obvious integration for us. Multiple channels keep everyone updated on general business to channels for specific tasks or teams.

This has provided us another avenue for communicating companywide announcements or specific hub notifications that isn’t email. In fact, we would hate to see the number of emails that could be easily missed in the Inbox without Teams!

MS Teams is our preference for online meetings, and we’ve also setup and hosted webinars which have been easy to manage guests and presenters. The great thing is that your recipient doesn’t need to have Teams set up for an online meeting to work.

If you need Microsoft 365 set up for your business, give us a call and our IT manager may be able to help with this.

 

Google Spaces

Anything to help reduce the number of emails across the day is a winner. Google Spaces is the Google version of Microsoft Teams. Loved by one of our senior staff, she has set up multiple channels for the different teams she works with. This keeps communications central for everyone, as well as making them a lot more concise, reducing the number of emails and  the risk of a missed communication. You can hold meetings online and more. If you love the Google Suite of products you’ll most likely know all about it but if not, check it out as an alternative to MS Teams: https://workspace.google.com/intl/en_nz/

 

ApprovalMax

ApprovalMax seems to pop up whenever I ask the question on what seems to be working well for our team. We’ve integrated this for more of our clients and it ensures the right people are reviewing the right bills prior to payment.  This is handy for clients that have jobs that incur multiple costs.

ApprovalMax removes the need for paper / email-based approvals with automated approval workflows for Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable. 

As Bookkeepers, it means we do not need to send you an email to make you aware of items requiring your approval for accounts payable. Instead, the approval process is housed online within the Xero / ApprovalMax system.

Last year we wrote a blog on why we love ApprovalMax. It simply remains easy to use and does what we need it to do!

We’ve now got 3 of our bookkeepers certified so if you’d like to learn more or have this integrated in Xero just let your bookkeeper or accounts manager know.  

 

Monday.com

For those wanting a project management tool, Monday.com is definitely worth reviewing.

This is currently being used by our marketing administrator and we’re not even using it to its full potential yet, as there are so many great features we haven’t tapped into.

To get you started there are templates to choose from, then you customise those or create your own board for whatever job you want to manage. Colour coding everything helps visualise what is outstanding and what is complete. You can invite team members to specific projects when you’re working across jobs with other people.

Easily plan your day, your week or month, even your team and check off those items that need to get done. If you have a to-do list that is always changing, we think you’ll love Monday.com.  We recommend starting with the free version and work up to what you need.

male sitting at cafe table looking at laptop with hand over mouth concerned.

If you want to know your cash balances on a short-term basis – weekly, fortnightly, or monthly – then short-term cashflow reporting will help you.

This is the method that our bookkeepers have been using to provide precise cashflow forecasts to business owners, wanting to know how much cash their business is going to have in one week, or one month up to 3 months.

Fundamentally, it’s about having information to give you time and money to make the right business decisions.

You’ll get visibility of your future cash position which will highlight when things are going to be tight. This will allow you to take action to get through any tough times.

You’ll also be able to see a clear picture of how much money you’ll have in a given week and how much you can afford to pay out.

In Xero, the short-term cash flow projection dashboard forecasts the amount of cash your business will have in the next 7 or 30 days. You can choose which bank accounts to include in the projection.

 

How these forecasts can help you:

  • avoid financial trouble
  • plan for future cash shortcomings
  • meet your tax obligations
  • plan asset purchases
  • plan for growth or expansion
  • make an informed decision on whether borrowing is right for you
  • benchmark your performance
  • test different strategic scenarios
  • figure out the best time to invoice
  • build your case for investment
  • forecast the cost of taking on more employees.

 

If you’re going to do this, you’ll need to be upfront and honest. Some common mistakes include:

  • Being overly optimistic when you’re predicting future income — to have any real merit, your predictions need to be honest and backed up by data.
  • Not documenting your current financial activities — your past income and expenditures will help you accurately predict your future cash flow.

Remember, a cash flow forecast is only as valuable as the information and detail put into it. You can do this yourself, or our bookkeepers are happy to help.

A short-term cashflow forecast can give you a detailed view of how much money you have and therefore how much time you have to fix any liquidity problems that may arise.

If this is something you’d like for your business, speak to your Red Office Bookkeeper or Account Manager to discuss further.

Further Reading: 3 areas to help with cashflow from one of our senior bookkeeper’s.

 

graphic of 2 females drinking coffee

In the fast-paced world of professional service environments, starting a new job can often feel overwhelming. The fear of the unknown, the new tasks, and the challenge of fitting into an established team can make even the most confident individual question their abilities.

In 2022, Red Office implemented a Mentor programme. A brilliant solution to ease the transition and banish the dreaded “first-day jitters”.

We know Mentors aren’t new but it’s something that has really helped our team work together.

Picture this: It’s your first day at a new job. You’re full of excitement, nerves and a little anxious. At Red Office, a warm welcome awaits you in the form of your hub coordinator, the business owner, and a mentor – someone from the wider team who has volunteered to guide and support you for next 8 weeks. It’s a simple yet effective initiative that has brought plenty of positive effects.

So, what exactly does this mentorship entail? Well, it’s not your typical office affair. You catch up once a week outside the confines of the office, in a relaxed and neutral environment. Usually this happens over a leisurely walk or grabbing a coffee at a cafe while you delve into the intricacies of the new experience. It’s a chance to discuss what’s working, address any challenges, and provide the necessary support to ensure a smooth transition into the team.

The beauty of this mentorship lies in its ability to create a safe space for new employees to explore their uncertainties and concerns. It’s a time when you can freely converse with someone who has walked the same path, ‘been there done that’,  someone who understands the nuances of acclimating to a new workplace. The mentors, too, recognize the value of sharing their time and knowledge with their mentees. They provide encouragement and guidance as the mentees navigate through a sea of new technologies, practice models, clients, team members, and accounting software.

With a trusted mentor by their side, our new employees can focus on grasping their new role by the horns with a positive outlook, and progress faster. This nurturing environment not only benefits the mentees but also contributes to building trust and relationships within the team. And as we all know, satisfied team members inevitably translate into satisfied clients.

Week by week, as the mentorship progresses, an amazing transformation occurs. The once apprehensive newbies blossom into confident and capable contributors. This programme is now over a year in, and both mentors and mentees have positive feedback. It’s a testament to the power of genuine support and guidance in fostering personal and professional development:

“Being a new starter, you always feel awkward as there is plenty of learning involved, not just the systems but the people too. My mentor made me feel confident in myself and reminded me things take time i.e., learning new things and people’s names. I really needed to hear that as I was being hard on myself.”

“I’ve gained more confidence in myself that I will be able to fill the role to the best of my abilities.”

“This has given me someone to talk to who has been in the same position as I am now, it gives me access to someone with a different point of view and someone to help with the little practical things.”

“I found it super valuable being new when you haven’t built relationships with other team members you feel like you already have a person in your corner to help you. I gained knowledge on how things operate in our environment especially having no experience at all.”

“This has made me feel like it’s ok to step out of my comfort zone and talk more readily about how I am doing.”

“I’ve gained a new acquaintance from another hub which is not easy to do in a busy office.”

“I’ve learnt the importance of face-to-face conversation between people”.

The Mentor Programme at Red Office has proven to be a significant system, merging teamwork, growth, and client satisfaction with our values.  

So, if you ever step through the doors of our workplace, know that you won’t be left to navigate the currents alone. We will be there ready to guide you through the waves, making your journey from new starter to seasoned team member a special one.

Want to know more about working at Red Office? Check out some of our videos on YouTube.

We’re always on the lookout for our next team member. If you’re interested in joining our team get in touch with Louise to submit your details. 

capture of a screen showing fields for username and password

How to protect yourself from fraudulent emails

Recently our team held a full staff review session on fraud awareness and protection. We’ve had a few phishing emails come through lately, so it was crucial to get everyone up to speed on how to recognize them and what to do if they receive one.

According to Cert NZ, New Zealanders report an average loss of $4.6m per quarter due to scams. Scammers are continuously evolving their tactics to obtain confidential information and money from unsuspecting victims.

Some of our team members received emails where the sender was posing as one of our colleagues. The emails requested purchases of gift cards, changes to bank accounts, or access to shared files. While these emails may not be the most sophisticated, they can be easily actioned if not detected in time. Fortunately, our internal processes and regular communications enabled us to identify these emails and raise awareness among the team.

We have internal processes and regular communications in place, so we know to raise an eyebrow when something seems off. Our protocol is to pause and check before taking any action. We recommend that you do the same. Do you know the sender of the email? While the sender’s name may seem familiar, be sure to verify the sender’s email address, especially the domain name. If it differs from what you usually see, don’t trust it. According to our IT manager, 60% of emails that come through are spam or scam emails. This statistic is quite alarming and emphasizes the need for caution when dealing with suspicious emails.

It’s not just our team that needs to be aware of these scams; our clients must also be protected. The strong relationships we’ve built with our clients mean that if they receive something unusual, a quick phone call to us can help enhance security features.

So, what should you look for in a phishing email? They often have –

  • Misspellings
  • incorrect branding
  • a sense of urgency, such as a request to click on a link, update your details immediately, or push to make a purchase

To avoid being caught out, verify any email requests that appear urgent. This step is often overlooked but can prevent the need to pay thousands of dollars to retrieve or set up files again or pay an invoice that is not retrievable.

If you do receive a phishing email, here’s what you should do:

It’s also essential to take the time to check any urgent requests for legitimacy. We’ve set up our internal processes so that any urgent requests from managers or team members don’t come through via email. Taking that time to check is much better (and cheaper) than having to pay out thousands of dollars to retrieve or set up your files again or paying an ‘invoice’ that won’t be refunded.

In addition to being vigilant and thoroughly checking emails, we recommend setting up two or three layers of verification on any software you use. We suggest using an authenticator app as the primary authentication method instead of the text message authentication.

We’ve also included some useful resources at the end of this post, that include websites and tools to help you check for phishing scams and report any issues you might encounter.

Stay safe out there! And remember, if you’re not sure, shout out for help.

Here are some useful resources to help you stay safe online:

graphic of women avatars in a line

This International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating the achievements of women and honouring the 2023 theme ‘embrace equity’.

One of the missions of the IWD community that we closely resonate with at Red Office is “to forge inclusive work cultures where women’s careers thrive and their achievements are celebrated.”

It’s something that truly embodies how we want to be at Red Office and have been on this pathway for many years now.

Our focus areas include work-life balance, recruitment, retention, and professional development. This means:

  • Everyone has the same opportunity and resources for training and professional development.
  • Flexible work arrangements – we’re family friendly and understand the importance of having that work-life balance with a mix of office and work from home arrangements in place.
  • Mental health programmes are available and shared throughout the team if/when they want to use them.
  • We introduced a Growth Pathway scheme for our bookkeepers in 2021 for anyone who wants to move into team leader roles. This supports women wanting to move into leadership positions and external training and development programmes are offered for this.
  • Achievements and milestones are celebrated through a company-wide announcement, and any certificates are framed and hung on the wall.
  • Careers can thrive – quarterly polls are sent out to all staff who can complete these anonymously with their feedback on how things are tracking for them. We’ll take this feedback into account and incorporate new processes if required.
  • We utilise the same standards for all staff when conducting performance reviews and awarding promotions. There’s no discrimination.
  • A mentoring program for new starters was established, ensuring equal access for all staff
  • Exit interviews are conducted with employees to record valuable information that can be used to improve our workplace in the future.

Its essential our team feel acknowledged, respected, encouraged to participate, and valued for their unique perspectives. It is by understanding the experiences each of our team have that leads to our overall goal for success.

Some benefits we’ve seen by embracing this stance are better decision making and problem solving, improved morale and an increase in motivation.

Our long term goal is to create a business where all employees thrive.

We’re happy to say this is something we continue to focus on to improve and ensure all staff here are provided with the resources to be the best they can be.

To read more on International Women’s Day visit their website, perhaps it could spark some inspiration for you?

magnifying glass over an invoice

April 1st is not far away so this month you’ll want to ensure you’re on top of the GST invoicing changes.  Here’s what you need to know and think about:

  • ‘Taxable supply information’ is effectively replacing Tax invoices.

The information required is dependent on the value of the transaction (see table below)

  • Your accounts payable processes. Do your systems or staff automatically reject invoices which don’t have the words ‘tax invoice’ on them? If so, review this as your suppliers (and customers) may update their systems for the new rules. You may receive invoices after 1 April 2023 which don’t have these words on the invoice. The same will apply for credit notes, debit notes and buyer-created tax invoices.
  • Your information management systems. Review your systems to ensure supplier and customer databases can handle the taxable supply information requirements, especially recipient information (e.g. physical address and NZBN options).
  • Reviewing arrangements with suppliers and customers where buyer-created invoicing is more appropriate. Where you are entering into new buyer-created taxable supply information arrangements, you will need to retain the correct records (including copies of the agreements).
  • The time of supply rules. Certain transactions will have a different time of supply to the date the invoice is created. From 1 April 2023, the time of supply must be included in taxable supply information.
  • Training your staff on the new rules, including what is required to support GST input tax deductions. As well as a refresher on GST, it will also give you the opportunity to review supplier/customer arrangements and ensure all business/trade terms are current and comply with the new rules.
  • Progressing towards e-invoicing if you haven’t already. These new GST invoicing rules have been introduced to cater for technology and business processes. More efficient invoicing processes could benefit your business.

 

In Summary:

  • Most businesses may continue to use their existing methods of issuing a tax invoice from 1 April 2023. However, it is worth noting what information you must hold when you receive the taxable supply information as the recipient. 
  • There will no longer be a requirement to keep receipts under $200.
  • Inland Revenue has already approved, with immediate effect, the removal of the requirement to obtain approval to issue buyer-created tax invoices.  The supplier and recipient will only need to agree that the recipient will issue the invoice (or taxable supply information from 1 April 2023) and have a record of why this has been done. 
  • The terminology for buyer-created invoices will be “buyer created taxable supply information”
  • If your business is GST registered, you must retain and hold records of the taxable supply information and supply correction information regardless of whether you are the supplier or the recipient of the goods and services. This is a very different concept, as traditionally, businesses that receive the supply must hold a valid tax invoice to make a GST deduction claim on their GST returns. 

You can keep up to date with these changes from the IR website: https://www.ird.govt.nz/gst/tax-invoices-for-gst/rules-for-tax-invoices-are-changing-on-1-april-2023 or let us know if you have any questions.

Need to get your accounts in control? Talk to us to see how we help businesses like yours.

Achieving Master Bookkeeper status through the ICNZB takes time and commitment. Something Louise put in to accomplish this status which is the highest level of the ICNZB membership tier.

Watch the interview, conducted by Irene Bennetts – President of the ICNZB, where she speaks to Louise about her journey as a Bookkeeper, her biggest client achievement and what her vision is for the future of bookkeeping. 

 

Read more about Louise and the Red Office team here.

relaxing in nature

Taking a break from work is important to everyone, not just your staff. Business owners often work around the clock with hardly any down time and taking a break can be just as stressful. In NZ, we’re lucky to have as many public holidays as we do, and the Christmas / New Year period is a great time to unwind.

With careful planning and management everyone can enjoy these Christmas holidays. Here’s our tips for helping you to wind down over the holidays so you can have a restful break:

 

  1. Prioritise workloads and manage expectations

Setting realistic deadlines helps staff work to a nice, calm schedule. Trying to cram a high volume of work into a short space can lead to poor quality output. Let your staff know what work you expect them to do before they leave, and what can wait until they get back.

If you are personally planning to be off over the festive season, it is vital to manage the expectations of your clients and staff. Let them know when you will not be around and advise them early confirming who the point of contact is in your absence.  You may decide to split your tasks between two team members.  If you do this ensure one of those staff has overall responsibility for escalating to you.  This will ensure as few interruptions as possible.  It is important these staff know they have your authority to make decisions in your absence.  They won’t always get that right, but success comes from trial and error. Engage and empower these staff and your holiday will be as interruption free as possible.

  1. Smooth handovers for your remaining staff

If you have staff working through part of the holidays, make sure they are comfortable knowing what work they need to cover.  A detailed handover with strong process notes documenting all deadlines and workflow expectations will remove any stress and confusion and those on holiday can feel assured the work is being managed.   If you have the opportunity, give those staff covering work the opportunity while those handing over are at work. That way they can check they understand the requirements, can ask questions, and build trust with those they are covering. 

  1. In the few weeks prior to Christmas set some boundaries

In the lead up to Christmas the days and weeks can feel long, hot and tedious. If you have school aged children, there can be a lot going on for them as well. Try and take regular breaks away from work so you can be present for those around you. Let your workmates know when you are contactable and when you are not.

For many, December is often a month where 4 weeks work is covered in 3 weeks so do not be tempted to put an extra project into the mix or say yes to those ‘not so urgent’ requests.  Set the boundaries and put the extra items into the New Year.  If you find you have extra capacity during December pull something forward but with the expectation set to January, you will not disappoint.

  1. When you are on a break, switch off from technology

We do not need to be ‘always on’ or ‘always available’. Disconnecting gives our mind and body a break and reduces stress. Set a clear out of office message clarifying who to contact in your absence and when you will be available.  Your internal out of office and your external contacts out of office is likely to be different.   If you really need to be on your phone, set a time for when you will check emails and messages and be strict with yourself on a time limit.   If there is an urgent item sense check whether it requires you to action the task or whether it can be forwarded to the person covering that work for you.   What goes around comes around so most people covering a person while on leave will be 100% focussed on delivering to a high level to ensure they get the opportunity when they take a break.  It might only be 2 hours for you vs 5 hours for them to complete the task but that’s still half a day of your holiday.  Prioritise yourself.

  1. Make a list of things you would like to do.

This is your chance to reconnect with some of your interests and things you enjoy. Think about things you have been meaning to do and put steps into place to actually do them. Whatever you decide to do, resist the urge to post about it on social media – try to enjoy it for yourself.  It generally takes three days to unwind so work hard to disconnect as fast as you can.

Once you start to feel relaxed, the experts behind the Calm app say…

Recharge in nature. One of the most powerful ways to de-stress and switch off is to spend time outdoors and give yourself a break with the restorative effects of nature. Go for a walk along the beach, a hike with friends, or finish that gardening project.

  
Prioritise sleep. More sleep improves our memory, mood, creativity and problem-solving skills.  
 

Slow down your breath. When we feel anxious or overwhelmed, we tend to take quick shallow breaths, which deepens our anxiety. To counter this, slow your breathing. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose to the count of four. Hold your breath for one to two seconds, then exhale slowly to the count of four. Repeat several times.
 
We hope you’re able to have a well-earned break this year and we look forward to reconnecting with you in the new year.   We have a skeleton staff working over the festive season for those clients where this is their busy period.  For all clients winding down over the period we appreciate you giving our team the opportunity to unwind and recharge ready for 2023.

core values

No-one wants to work for, or do business with, people they don’t trust. And it’s impossible to trust someone you don’t know.

So when the Red Office leadership team met to identify our organisational values, the intention was clear: we want our clients and team to know this is who we are.

The bookkeeping industry has existing standards and criteria we must meet when dealing with clients, their accountants, the IRD and the industry’s professional body. But as a business, we also have our own standards that we want to live up to.

These are our values. They mean more than words on a page. Everyone on the team understands and acts on them.

Excellence: Continual focus on excellence to our clients, other team members we support, and to ourselves for our focus on ongoing learning.

We strive to be excellent, better than great or good, and definitely not average. We’ve spent years building and growing our business to a high level and have set a benchmark.

In the past 16 years the industry has seen significant change. We don’t do things out of habit. Our value of ‘Excellence’ drives us to continually adapt and challenge the status quo. We have changed from a retrospective GST preparation and daily data entry focus to a forward-focussed accounting engine for our clients’ businesses.

Clients appreciate that we go that extra mile for them. They know they can come to us with simple problems as well as complex ones, and we can help by working out a solution. We don’t grow by merely being OK. We increase our business and our team’s skills by striving for excellence.

Teamwork: Our point of difference within the industry and drives all business process. Keeping this at the centre of our business, we will have support & personal development for the team and the business will grow.

We match clients and their needs to a suitable Account Manager as their main point of contact. But there’s a whole team behind that Account Manager. 

Red Office is not a place to be a back-room keyboard warrior. We like the people aspect, and we want our team to enjoy coming to work. We’re lucky to have a diverse range of ages and races on staff, and people from various employment and academic backgrounds who bring their unique experience to work.

How do we work as a team? Processes help a lot. Plus, we’ve got an array of channels we use daily in MS Teams, including ‘Xero Updates’, ‘IRD Updates’, and ‘Payroll updates’. If someone has a juicy snippet of information or has found something useful they think the wider team should know, this is where it is shared.

Many helpful tips and tricks have been passed on this way, along with the knowledge gained from using various features in Xero, app integrations, Excel formulas, navigating myiR, and more.

Ethics: To uphold strong industry standards while providing high quality support to our clients to ensure their businesses have accurate audit worthy accounts.

Ethics are incredibly important in our industry and for everyone representing our business. To earn the respect and trust of our clients we act in a transparent manner, hold ourselves accountable, and stay true to our word.

We want to be remembered for what we do and how we made a positive impact on our clients and their operations. Our values may not be unique, but they empower our team, promote a positive culture where staff can be engaged in their roles, and allow us to grow our business.

We commit to being our clients’ ‘gatekeepers’ for both legislative and internal process requirements. Many clients delegate financial authority to our team so we can ensure their compliance needs are met.  

We’re also proactive with advice and recommendations, alerting clients with payroll issues that they are heading into grey areas and opening themselves up to possible employment problems. 

As a further ethical safeguard, we maintain separation of duties within our team to ensure clear and transparent approvals levels are always in place.

Our values protect all-important relationships

Excellence. Teamwork. Ethics. These three values encapsulate the way Red Office treats staff and clients alike. We’re sharing them with you as our guarantee of openness and honest dealing.

So while it might be true that no-one wants to work with people they don’t trust, and you can’t trust someone you don’t know, you know us a little better now. And if you can recognise our values in your own, let’s work together. We’re pretty sure we’re going to get along!

stressed business owner

Bookkeeping can be the most tedious and difficult part of running a small business. When most businesses start out, one person is often responsible for all aspects of managing the accounts.

Mistakes can happen easily, and these mistakes can cost your business money.

We list 4 of the most common bookkeeping mistakes small business owners tend to commit when they handle their own bookkeeping tasks. If you answered yes to any of these mentioned below, there is good news for you: it’s never too late to improve your bookkeeping and finances.

Not Keeping Up to Date Records

Accounts / bookkeeping is a discipline. As a business owner there are a lot of other things you need to attend to, and bookkeeping can easily be pushed to the bottom of your seemingly endless To-Do list.

The biggest challenge is keeping the receipts.  Setup a simple process to snap photos of your receipts and forward them into your accounting system’s inbox.  If daily updating is not possible, at least dedicate some time once a week to do your bookkeeping.

Payroll

For many small businesses hiring staff opens up a large can of worms.  It is important if you are employing that you get some training around the requirements to maintain employment relationships and know how to manage these. 

Ensure you setup the paperwork the right way and follow the disciplines to ensure you don’t create a tribunal risk. 

There are free government tools available and there are other businesses providing tools and resources, such as HRtoolkit who provide a complete HR DIY Toolkit and the NZPPA who have various training courses and resources.  

Once you have staff employed ensuring you get their payroll accurate each pay period is important.  You need to know the difference between Holiday Pay and Annual Leave, Otherwise Working days, treatment of public holidays in final pays and more. 

NZ Payroll is complex.  We would consider this the first area a business owner should consider outsourcing if they do not have the skills to manage this work.

Month End / GST processes

Generally, the biggest mistake made by 95% of business owners managing their accounts is not having a formal month end process in place. 

Spending 1-4 hours per month to check that everything is entered correctly will ensure that the Profit and Loss report is accurate and can be used to drive business decisions. 

Check:

  • all sales invoicing is completed and dated in the month
  • bank accounts are reconciled and balance to the bank statements
  • accounts payables items are all entered with invoices attached
  • payroll is reporting correctly
  • the gst is reviewed and correct
  • and that the Balance Sheet is accurate

If you don’t know how to action those items, then you are better placed to engage someone to assist with these tasks.  It might be you manage the daily entries and outsource the end of month process to ensure you are doing things correctly and your accountant can action end of year smoothly.

Time vs. cost

How many times have you thought that if you do something yourself, it will save you a ton of money? This process can end up costing you more – both financially if not done right, and in time. Keep a track of your time that you spend doing the accounts.

When you’re finding that you don’t have enough time in the week to focus on all the tasks you to do, the accounts and payroll are an easy area to create extra time in your diary.

The constant workflow of maintaining accounts can sometimes feel unrelenting and mean that business owners get distracted from, the ‘thinking’ work or sales drive, or the reverse can happen where they fall behind on the accounts because they are focusing on the sales and growth. 

Keep a track of the tipping point where you don’t have enough time in your week and prioritise the tasks that only you as the business owner can manage and gradually look to outsource or hire to cover the rest.

While it’s good to be aware of these common bookkeeping mistakes that can be costing your business more, the most convenient and efficient approach to stay on top of your business accounts is still to entrust your bookkeeping to the experts.

A professional outsource team can add value by taking over some tasks to create time in your diary but also as experts in the software and accounts processes, they can focus on automating as much as possible to be time effective. For most NZ small businesses 2-8hours support per week depending on the transactional volumes can cover the accounts function.

If you want to spend time focusing on your business, we can help with your bookkeeping.

Get in touch with us today!

Xero award finalists 2022

We’re going to blow our own trumpet, toot our own horn, and ding our own bell because this year we are a Xero Awards Finalist for Bookkeeping Partner of the Year 2022!

We’ve been in the running for this award for a few years now so we’d love to be able to take out this prestigious award.

If you know us, you’ll know we fangirl/boy over Xero. Xero is a firm that believes in helping business owners succeed and strives to make business easier. It’s something we strongly believe in at Red Office. Our values just align, plus they are always at the forefront of innovation and technology which we love too. It’s a combination of good tech with good people that makes Xero the best software for our practice.

The reason we get so excited about these awards is that the recognition from those in the accounting and bookkeeping space is amazing. Our team work very hard every day to help our clients with their day-to-day business, keep up to date with their Xero certifications, learn the ins and outs of the software (so you don’t have to), and this award nomination shows what can be achieved when the whole team work together.  Our team deserve this award – we make a difference in the lives of our clients every day.

Winners will be announced in November so keep your fingers crossed for a win for us!

If you’re looking for professional accounts management for your business, check out how we can help businesses like yours.

Xero Platinum Partner logo

We’re excited to share the news that in August 2022, Red Office achieved the status of  Xero Platinum Partner.

This means as a practice we’ve made a consistent effort in ensuring our team has the most up to date knowledge on Xero, which is achieved through consistent education and training. We’re a Xero practice all the way and have helped migrate many businesses across from other software onto Xero, integrate many apps to their file, provide custom app integrations when required, and provide training and support  in Xero to those businesses who need it.

It’s the highest official ranking by Xero and we’ve been working towards this level for a while.  To achieve this status this year has been really rewarding. Only 2% of Xero partners worldwide have this platinum partner status, which puts us in a really high position as bookkeepers, since this statistic includes both accountants and bookkeepers.

For our clients, it means you have peace of mind knowing that your bookkeeper understands the software, is capable of adapting to Xero’s new features and can provide support to you when you need it most.

For those thinking of converting to Xero or need more help navigating the software or any of the integrated apps, have a chat to one of our team to help get you started.

ApprovalMax

Red Office are pleased to be an ApprovalMax Partner, and we have two team members ApprovalMax Certified.   Streamlining your processes is one thing we actively recommend and will help you to implement from our first introductory meeting with you. The ApprovalMax integration can help to eliminate all those manual approval requests.

How can ApprovalMax help me?

ApprovalMax removes the need for paper / email-based approvals with automated approval workflows for Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable.  For us as Bookkeepers it means we do not need to send you an email to make you aware of items requiring your approval for accounts payable. Instead, the approval process is housed online within the Xero / ApprovalMax system. Management of workflow is improved for both yourself and us and means a payment will not be missed in case someone misses or loses an email.

Some Key features and capabilities include:

  • Approval automation for accounts payable and accounts receivable: multi-step and multi-role authorisation process with easy setup for bills, purchase orders and sales invoices to make sure they are fully authorised before payment.
  • Approval of Xero contacts: create new suppliers in ApprovalMax and use the multi-step automated workflow for their authorisation.
  • Unlimited user number, fully digital approval process and automated audit trail: any number of users can create, review, and approve Xero documents. No papers to sign, no chasing approvers. Detailed audit trail with all actions and comments.
  • On-the-go approvals and instant notifications: business approvers, budget holders, executives review and approve (or reject) purchase orders and bills via our mobile or web app; or by replying to an automated customisable notification they received.
  • Bill to purchase order matching and X-way matching: for an additional level of control, bills can be matched to purchase orders and also with proof of delivery documents.
  • Budget checking capability: approvers can view the relevant budgets right on the screen with the document awaiting approval
  • Auto-approvals: save approvers’ time by setting up auto-approval rules for smaller or regular expenses
  • Direct integration with Dext Prepare: all invoices and expenses captured by Dext Prepare can be routed straightaway through the multi-step and multi-role authorisation workflow run by ApprovalMax, and posted to Xero after authorisation.
  • Compatibility with all data capture tools: ApprovalMax works with all data capture tools that are pre-integrated with Xero.

Which clients does it work best for?

If you have specific approval requirements like a director sign-off, treasurer, team leader etc then ApprovalMax can streamline this workflow.  If you have a high number of AP and AR transactions and your inbox is out of control with requests for approval, then investigate ApprovalMax.  If this is a function you would like to automate and save more time on, then please speak to your Red Office bookkeeper as we can recommend an integration for your business.

How easy is the setup

The setup is easy and straightforward with your Red Office bookkeeper doing the hard work for you by managing this process and integration into Xero. Leave it to us and we’ll get it sorted.

Pricing

Would you like to reduce the number of emails and streamline your accounts payable process? Then let’s chat to see if we can implement ApprovalMax for you!

Speak to your Red Office bookkeeper to see if this is right for you.

Hub Concept

We’ve been talking about our ‘hub’ concept a lot over the past two years and as a bookkeeping business with almost 20 employees, it’s a concept not a lot of other bookkeeping businesses can offer.

Bookkeeping is a relentless business with each new month opening another set of checklists and items to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. As such, the volume of clients and nature of the work we undertake is often quite large and involved. We don’t just provide standard bookkeeping and transactional accounts management, but also consultancy and high-level accounts management if you require it.

How did the idea form?

Our ability to grow as a business was stunted due to Louise having a 15-1 staff ratio and all our bottlenecks occurred with her time availability.  Recruiting and onboarding new staff & clients were challenging and Louise herself knew she was doing a very average job of managing all the hats she was wearing. Louise attended a 2-day Zac De Silva strategic leadership workshop and from this came a plan. After consultation with the team, a decision was made to create a Growth Pathway. This provided our internal team an opportunity to step into an introductory leadership role and see if our Seniors liked coming off the tools and moving into a leadership role. Thus, creating the Hub Coordinator (HC).

Our HCs manage the daily workflow planning for their team and their hub clients. They are constantly checking deadlines, accuracy of work, holiday planning, onboarding of clients, new staff, and more. They are the ‘go-to’ person for their team. The HC role has provided the opportunity for leaders to emerge and for those that have wanted to trial the role to decide if a move into leadership is right for them. Providing the opportunity for our internal team to develop into a leadership role vs recruiting leaders has been a slower road to implementing this new look team, however, we are confident this is now reaching momentum and is the right format for our business.

Advantages to our clients

When a client calls the office, they want to know they can reach the person primarily responsible for their account. Our onboarding process involves an introduction to a primary account manager or bookkeeper – this is the day-to-day contact person. Then we’re able to offer a backup contact which is usually another person in that hub, as well as the hub coordinator.  This process covers any staff absences and ensures our clients know their work doesn’t drop because someone is away. It’s one of our cogs that keeps things moving.

There is always going to be some movement between teams. Sometimes the scope of work changes or clients leave, or someone in the team can provide a niche skillset that means some reshuffling is required. This doesn’t happen often, but we’re set up to manage any changes quickly and easily with minimal stress on the rest of the team and the client.

Most recently we created a payroll specialist hub, lead by our in-house payroll specialist – Sarah.  Sarah now has 2 other team members working with her, concentrating specifically on onboarding those clients wanting payroll management. Sarah’s hub will onboard new clients, streamline their systems and processes, and will then hand over the clients to a long-term Account Manager while providing review and oversight in the background and cover in staff absence.

Teamwork is everything to us, not just a trend. As anyone managing a team knows, it’s always a work in progress. The wellbeing of our staff is crucial and when the team is cohesive and working well, it’s conveyed in the quality of our work. Receiving client testimonials that confirm what we wanted to achieve is so uplifting for all of us.

The future for Red Office

Our new look team structure is providing us the opportunity to keep growing our staff numbers and our hubs. Those wanting to be in a team leader position can put themselves forward and we encourage continual professional development and education. HCs attend external leadership training across their first 6 months in their new role and our long-term strategy is to provide the opportunity for a promotion to a Team Leader 12-24months into their role once we have developed their teams to 6 staff. Our Team Leader role will be a full leadership role with overall responsibility for all KPI’s for their team from recruiting, performance management, client onboarding, audits etc. Team Leaders or HCs will have a business within our business and the opportunity to take their leadership career to the next level.  We’re pleased that we are able to offer growth and career opportunities to our team and this aspect remains in our annual goal planning.

cashflow

Cashflow is one of the prime causes of angst among those who own or run a business.  Whether you have a start-up business or are already established, there may be times when you will experience a cashflow crunch.

One of our Senior Bookkeepers has provided her top 3 areas to focus on that can help with improving cashflow.

1.Sales invoices

Send invoices out promptly. For invoices due on the 20th that are unpaid, an Outstanding Invoices statement can be sent as a reminder. You can prefix the subject line with “Reminder / or Overdue” (as appropriate). If the payment has not arrived by say the 25th, send an email. Make sure the subject line has ‘Overdue invoice/s’ and request an expected payment date. This request creates ‘Upflow’ within an organisation, and the Customer or Accounts Team will need to reply with an expected payment date. If, by the 28th funds are still not received, a phone call should be made to request an expected payment date. Customer Statements should be sent as soon as possible past month-end. For some businesses, it may be a new thing to start chasing customers for payments. Red Office can help with this. Feel free to send us a message to enquire.

2.Purchases (bills)

There is a function in Xero to set planned payment dates separately to the bill due date. These planned payment dates give a snapshot view of what is owing and when. For main suppliers, negotiate extended payment terms. Most are willing to do so. Here’s an example of how this looks:

Step by step, the cashflow becomes clear – as to whether it is positive or negative, and by leaning on Customers to pay on time, and by talking to Suppliers to ask for extended payment terms, will optimize the situation.

By clicking onto one of the planned payment dates, it drills down and provides a list of bills to be paid and to whom. A business owner can change the planned payment dates easily to re-jig the cashflow etc.

3.The obligatory taxes: PAYE, GST, Income Tax.

The IRD has an installment arrangement available inside its portal, that is very easy to use.  For PAYE, GST, and Income Tax – there are penalties applied if these get missed, causing unnecessary angst and expenditure if not managed.

By spreading the cost over 12-18 months, a business can firstly avoid any penalties, though they must pay interest, all of which is set out in the installment plan at the time of application. IRD provides a response on the spot – Successful or Declined so there is no waiting.

If you can spend a few hours on your cashflow review and plan, it will set you up for Christmas and hopefully on the other side sales will increase again. We recommend you don’t leave your cashflow calculations until it’s too late. Do it now! If you need assistance with this please let us know. We are happy to help but must clarify that we cannot provide business advice as the business owner must make their own decisions based on the information provided.

If you would like to speak to one of our team further on this, please get in touch with your main bookkeeper or accounts manager to make a time to discuss.

Find out more about how a Red Office bookkeeper can help your business grow.

payroll

Payroll is one of those complex processes that involve a lot more than paying staff.  When you have this process managed efficiently it’s another business function you don’t need to worry about.

Coming into the holiday period, we asked our in-house Payroll Specialist, Sarah Chaillet, for her top tips for those managing payroll and what you need to know coming up to a long break.

1. Start planning early – 6 weeks out.

We know this can be hard but adding this item to your calendar for the same time each year helps reduce your stress and allows you time to manage staff holidays as well as your own. Planning cover for those staff who will be on leave and ensuring everyone has a fair break is important at this time of year.

2. Provide 14 days notice

Ensure you have provided the minimum 14 days notice to all staff, advising them clearly when the shut down periods will be. Having open communication, advising your team in person and by email ensures everyone is clear on where they stand.

3. Review all leave balances

Review all leave balances and advise anyone if you find discrepancies as soon as possible. Forecast leave up to and including the last day of paid time off as leave will continue to accrue.

4. Communicate leave balances

Let those know who will not have enough entitlement or leave in advance to cover that shut down period and plan accordingly. Leave without Pay is usually the next option.

5. Leave payment dates as usual

Process all runs over the shutdown period in advance, but leave the payment dates as they would normally fall ensuring continuity of wages to the staff.

 

If you would like help with your payroll, we use a variety of payroll software including iPayroll, Smartly, Pay Hero, and Xero Payroll. Our team manage payrolls for businesses with staff from 2 to over 100+ employees and remain payroll certified and up to date on the latest legislation. Speak to your bookkeeper or one of our team to discuss your payroll requirements.

Xero benefits

Since 2006, Xero has been a market disrupter in the best of ways. Red Office has been using Xero since its launch and is a proud Xero Gold partner finding a number of benefits in this cloud accounting system. Our team are Xero advisor certified and Xero payroll certified. It’s important to us we keep up to date with our certifications and as such, we have a requirement that everyone must remain certified during their employment with us. We’re impressed with the way Xero is constantly evolving and updating its product offering, which is why it is important as Bookkeepers that we keep up to date with our training. 

At Red Office, we aim to make life easier for our clients, which is a value of Xero’s that we align with. It’s an easy choice for us as a bookkeeping business, to use Xero for the sole ease of it. The shift to cloud computing has been instrumental for us to provide seamless remote professional bookkeeping services.  Work when and where you like. If you’re accounts system isn’t flexible then how can your business be?

The various integrations available from the app marketplace is overwhelming. We use over 30 connected apps in our practice for 100+ weekly bookkeeping clients. When we take on a new client, we spend 4-6weeks learning about their business. We then review the marketplace to find the right app to suit those businesses’ workflow requirements. This approach takes time as we are often using an app for just that client and ensure two of our team understand how to support that client using the app. This process is fully focused on what is best for the client vs applying a broad brush across all our clients.

From time to time we work closely with custom developers when we come across scenarios where we need the ability to integrate a system into Xero that isn’t available in the app marketplace. We are client-centric and everything stems from the client’s business workflow requirements.  Nowadays it is a rare occasion when we cannot package a Xero/app solution to improve a client’s business workflow.

Our Xero training and setup service was introduced to help business owners or their teams to be able to easily navigate the Xero accounting system. If you know how to use the system, where to find the tools you need, the better for you and for your bookkeeper or accountant.

If you’d like to book an online session to go over Xero please contact us to arrange this. We can accommodate taking you through your own Xero file and help you understand the areas you feel you need more support. Take a look at the options available here, or speak to one of our team if there is something you would like support with that we haven’t listed.

Xero has a huge range of guides and resources that are available for free. If you haven’t checked them out you can do so here.

If you would like to talk to us about using Xero, moving across to Xero or bookkeeping for your business, feel free to contact Louise in the first instance.

wellbeing

We’ve had Mental Health Awareness Campaign Days, Weeks, and Months, not just in New Zealand but worldwide. The term ‘wellbeing’ is now a trending word. Looking after yourself is no longer confined to what you do at home but is a concept that has been transferred into the workplace.  Many businesses now offer mental health days, and various resources.

Red Office had the pleasure of on online mindfulness and resilience training session delivered by Rachel from Sparkhouse in September ‘21. She covered things such as the warning signs of stress overload, how the body reacts to stress, what our stress triggers were, and got us thinking about ways we could handle stressful situations. Taking ownership of our stress has helped us put boundaries and clarity in place for those triggers or stressors.

What does this mean in the workplace? It’s obvious when you or your team are stressed or overworked, the work suffers. Performance is down as well as moral. People don’t talk to each other and don’t enjoy being at work.

How has this improved the wellbeing of our team? Reading tips or books and watching online videos or webinars is one thing, but then putting these suggestions into practise is another.  Each team member is now aware of a few strategies they can practise to help minimise their stressors and are provided with ways to manage their stress. Knowing that it is ok to feel worried and stressed can in itself be helpful. It has also helped to know what may trigger a stress response in our team members and what we can do to help each other when we see this happening.  In our session with Rachel, she asked everyone how they usually react if things get stressful. Some people retreated into themselves, others took home the worry, some had poor sleep, others took their anger out on those around them or lost their appetite. When we see this happening we’re better enabled to reach out and offer support.

Flexible working has meant our team are able to manage their workload according to their schedule. The team can adjust work according to their personal lives and other commitments ensuring that their client requirements are met. They plan their workflow, and we ensure there is backup available to cover leave, sickness and other absences.  Having a plan or a process in place has been crucial to our success as a business.

There are huge benefits to creating a workplace culture where it’s okay to talk about mental health. Your employees are your greatest asset – you need them to feel confident, happy and engaged in their work, so that productivity is high. Opening up a dialogue can result in: 

  • More positive mental health (less depression, stress, burnout)
  • Better physical health
  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Lower staff turnover
  • Improved work performance, motivation, commitment and energy
  • Less tension and conflict, more connectedness, kindness, tolerance and patience.

See more guidelines here for managers from the Mental Health Org.

I’ll leave you with some advice we received from Rachel: “You are not your thoughts. Only YOU add the meaning to your thoughts”.  

Red Office